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Ari Shapiro

The surge in COVID-19 infections throughout Alabama is forcing Gov. Kay Ivey to rethink plans to reopen the state.

For the last seven days, Alabama has logged an average of nearly 1,000 new daily coronavirus cases, with hospitalizations at their highest level since the pandemic began.

In the last installment of Play It Forward, the series in which musicians give thanks for the artists who have inspired them, Ari Shapiro spoke with saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin.

In the two-and-a-half weeks since police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, the question of how to change policing has eclipsed almost every other topic of debate.

Some of the loudest voices opposing dramatic change are from police unions.

Last time on Play It Forward, our musical chain of gratitude, R&B singer and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow raved about the saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. They share a few things in common: Both studied together at The New School's School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, both tap a similar spiritual vein in their music and as Muldrow sees it, both are "sangin' " even if it's through different mediums.

For white people who have just recently recognized their own complicity in America's racist systems and are looking to "fix" that — it's not going to happen overnight.

"It's a little bit like saying 'I want to be in shape tomorrow' ..." says author Robin DiAngelo. "This is going to be a process."

The coronavirus pandemic set a new record this weekend: More than 136,000 new cases around the world were reported on Sunday, the highest number in a single day.

The statistic comes from the United Nations, the global body the world often turns to in a crisis.

Louisville, Ky., has been a center of protests after police shot and killed Breonna Taylor in March. A lot has happened in the city since then.

David McAtee, owner of Yaya's BBQ, was a beloved fixture in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville, Ky., remembered as a pillar of the community and known to give out his food free of charge, even to local police officers.

His death at the hands of law enforcement has come as a shock to those who knew him.

McAtee, a chef, was killed early Monday morning at his barbecue business when Louisville Metro Police Department officers and National Guard troops responded to reports of a crowd gathered after the city's 9 p.m. curfew near the corner of 26th Street and Broadway.

As one of the country's worst economic and health crises in history deepens, rent is due again for millions of people who are struggling to make ends meet.

Over the last few months, states and the federal government have taken steps to help tenants who've lost their jobs. Now, while the unemployment rate is still climbing, some of the protections for renters are running out.

One month ago, the White House announced principles for reopening the country. Soon after, governors who felt they weren't getting enough federal guidance banded together to coordinate regional reopening plans.

Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, for example, told NPR last month that she'd been in regular contact with the governors of Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.

When it comes to the spread of America's coronavirus outbreak across the 50 states, Missouri's infection rate and death rate fall roughly in the middle of the pack.

The state's stay-at-home order is currently set to expire on April 24 — at least a month earlier than many other states — though some cities in Missouri have issued longer stay-at-home orders.

"Home," the first single from Caribou's latest album Suddenly, has taken on an unexpected meaning. As millions of Americans sit under self-quarantine at home and may be reaching for music as a form of solace, you could hear the refrain — "I'm home" — as either a cry or a reassurance.

With a societal shift away from buying albums, touring has been one of the main ways for musicians to support themselves. But now, as the coronavirus precautions shut down public spaces, clubs and concert halls are empty, the tour buses are parked and artists are trying to figure out how they'll get by in an era of social distancing.

Mandy Moore grew up in the musical spotlight: her 1999 hit "Candy" was released when she was just 15. But for the last 11 years, Moore hasn't released any new music; these days she's more known for playing Rebecca Pearson on the NBC drama This Is Us. Now Mandy Moore the singer is back with a reflective new album called Silver Landings.

Twitter is deploying new features on Thursday that it says will keep pace with disinformation and influence operations targeting the 2020 election.

A new policy on "synthetic and manipulated media," attempts to flag and provide greater context for content that the platform believes to have been "significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated."

The public's view of President Trump's impeachment trial is limited. In an era of ubiquitous cameras, no photographs are allowed in the Senate chamber. The only video comes from a set of cameras operated by government employees that's used by the television networks. There aren't many camera angles.

To give the public a closer view, news outlets are employing a low-tech solution.

Music is a kind of family inheritance for Georgia Barnes. The stories she tells of her relatives usually come back to music or dancing some way or another. Her dad used to play in an electronic group called Leftfield.

"My bedroom was actually Leftfield's studio," she says. "It was keyboards, drum machines, wires, bits of percussion, microphones."

People across China are remembering the life of Liang Jun, who is celebrated as the first Chinese woman to work as a tractor driver.

Recognized as a national folk hero, trailblazer and model socialist worker, Liang Jun was immortalized in the 1960s on China's 1 yuan banknote driving a tractor. She died this week at the age of 90.

Her story is typical of model workers in China, says Tina Mai Chen, a professor of Chinese history at the University of Manitoba. Chen interviewed Liang Jun in 1996.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the U.S. has the constitutional authority to strike Iranian proxies in Iraq and Iran on the Islamic Republic's home soil in retaliation for attacks on American forces.

Sheila Morrison was in Canada when she fell into her third diabetic coma.

"My 90-year-old cousin thought we had a lunch date, and so she came with her daughter to pick me up," she says. "And I wouldn't answer the door."

Her visitors were able to get inside and called an ambulance when they found her. Morrison remained in the coma for about a week.

Imagine people three drinks deep, trying to catch the bartender's attention for a beer or something stronger. The people behind the bar are shaking, stirring, pouring and finally, it's time.

Last call. The lights come up, the music goes down and people head out the door. It's a time of ritual for bar staff that patrons rarely get to see.

It's that ritual that intrigued author Brad Thomas Parsons and took him on a journey for his latest book. Parsons traveled around the United States to more than 80 bars, asking bartenders for their take on last call.

On the morning of Aug. 7, Tony McGee was driving to work in Morton, Miss., when he noticed something unusual happening at one of the local chicken processing plants.

McGee is superintendent of the county schools, and it was the second day of classes.

"There was some activity there with law enforcement that had the parking lot barricaded," he recalls. "I actually called one of our assistant superintendents because it's relatively close to the school."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Can Dolly Parton heal America? That's the question posed by a new podcast from WNYC, Dolly Parton's America, hosted by Radiolab's Jad Abumrad. It's not as far-fetched as you might think.

The story of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman unfolds like a globe-trotting mystery over more than a year.

When the two associates of President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were arrested at an airport this month for campaign finance violations, it wasn't immediately clear how — or even if — those activities were related to the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

But even before their arrest by the FBI, the two Soviet-born men were among the people whom Congress wanted to interview.

With nearly 30 years in show business, Kristin Chenoweth has won an Emmy and a Tony Award for both her singing and acting. In one of her most famous roles, she sang her way through Oz in a story about sisterhood — the award-winning musical Wicked. Still, Chenoweth says some people are surprised to learn that she's a singer.

"It's so funny when people come up to me and they're like, 'Oh, I didn't know you sang.' And I'm like, 'What?!,'" Chenoweth says.

In some ways, it was just like any other wedding. The organist played "Here Comes the Bride." Bridesmaids and groomsmen lined up shoulder to shoulder. A minister presided.

But that's where the similarities stopped. Everything else was spectacle. For one thing, the couple getting married wasn't in a traditional wedding venue; instead, they were in a massive major league baseball stadium in Washington, D.C. Tickets were sold. Vendors hawked souvenirs. And the bride was a gospel music superstar.

In an exclusive interview with NPR, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has not changed her mind on pursuing impeachment but is ready to change the law to restrain presidential power and make it clear that a sitting president can, in fact, be indicted.

"My entire life is in ruins."

The first line in Sarah Parcak's new book might come off a bit bleak, but the archaeologist means this literally, not figuratively. In fact, she's found studying thousands of years of human history has actually given her hope, or at least some hope. "Humans are very resilient," she says. "And in spite of all the terrible things that we have done to each other, I think we're 51% good. So I try to hold onto that, especially being the parent of a young child."

Electric cars are all over the roads these days. But what about electric planes?

Air travel currently accounts for only about 2% of global carbon emissions. But it's expected to grow in the next century, and clean air travel is seen as a key part of slowing global warming.

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